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Title: Consumer acceptability of cucumber pickles produced by fermentation in calcium chloride brine for reduced environmental impact

item WILSON, EMILY - North Carolina State University
item Johanningsmeier, Suzanne
item OSBORNE, JASON - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/19/2015
Publication Date: 6/1/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Wilson, E.M., Johanningsmeier, S.D., Osborne, J.A. 2015. Consumer acceptability of cucumber pickles produced by fermentation in calcium chloride brine for reduced environmental impact. Journal of Food Science. 80(6):S1360-S1367.

Interpretive Summary: Disposal of high salt waste continues to be a problem for the pickled vegetable industry. Fermentation of cucumbers with calcium chloride on a laboratory scale has shown that this method could serve as an environmentally-friendly replacement for traditional, high salt fermentations. In this study, consumer acceptability of pickles produced commercially by fermentation and storage in 1.1% calcium chloride brines as compared to traditional 6% sodium chloride (NaCl) brines was evaluated. According to 101 consumers, there was no difference in preference for pickles produced from NaCl and calcium chloride fermented cucumbers, whether stored in the tank yard 2 mo or 8 mo prior to processing. Further work also suggested that pickle processors can utilize the more environmentally friendly calcium chloride fermentation with a single desalting step without significant concern for the effect of higher calcium chloride concentrations on the taste profile of final products. However, variability in texture quality impacted consumer acceptability, indicating the need for further process optimization prior to broad implementation.

Technical Abstract: Fermentation of cucumbers in calcium chloride brine has been proposed as an alternative process to reduce the environmental impact of traditional, high salt fermentations. The objective of this research was to determine whether consumer acceptability of pickle products would be impacted by fermentation and storage of cucumbers in calcium chloride brine. Cucumbers were fermented and stored with 0.1M calcium chloride or 1M sodium chloride in open-air, 3000 gal tanks at a commercial facility and processed into hamburger dill chips containing 0.38M sodium chloride cucumbers fermented in calcium chloride required additional desalting to reduce calcium chloride concentrations to that of current products. Consumers (n = 101) showed no significant preference for pickles from different fermentation treatments, whether stored for 2 mo (P = 0.75) or 8 mo (P = 0.68) prior to processing. In contrast, sodium chloride fermented pickles were preferred over calcium chloride fermented pickles stored for 10 mo and desalted only once (P < 0.01). A series of preference tests indicated that the taste of calcium chloride was not the factor affecting consumer preference, and the 50% detection threshold of calcium chloride in dill pickle chips was found to be 61.8 ± 7.6 mM, indicating that processors could potentially use calcium chloride fermentations with a single desalting step. Consumer liking of flavor (n = 73) was not influenced by fermentation in calcium chloride or by 23 or 35 mM calcium chloride in finished products (P > 0.05), but variability in texture decreased consumer liking (P < 0.05). Although promising, individual fermentation variability and texture quality of calcium chloride fermented products should be further evaluated prior to broad implementation of this process.